The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Return of the Spirit of Truth

It was a little over a year ago (May 2006) that I introduced you all to the Spirit of Truth, everyone's favourite, foul-mouthed preacher. TedT just informed me this morning that some new, unreleased footage has been leaked on youtube. There are three parts, but I'm giving the link for my personal favourite, which is part 2. The last minute or so is priceless. Enjoy.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Public Service Announcement

Dear Reader(s),

I received what I'm sure is a new type of nefarious spam this week. It is an email from an unknown company without a proper URL claiming that you have received an E-card from "a colleague" or "a family member." I've received the odd E-card before, and it's usually far more specific, i.e., it will tell you exactly who sent you one, and the name of the company will be clear. If you see any such email, especially with a URL link that is nothing but numbers, delete it. Lord knows how you could harm your computer by clicking it.

You may ask, "how can I damage my computer if I click on a URL but don't download anything"? The answer is simple: anytime you visit a webpage, your browser automatically downloads pictures and other files into the TEMP folder, otherwise known as Temporary Internet Files. So by merely viewing a wepage, you CAN download files, often without your knowledge. This is usually how virii and especially trojan horses get onto your computer.

I hope this post has been useful in averting potential computer nuisances. Lord knows computers are cumbersome without trojan horses.

I remain your obedient and humble servant,

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Science, yaaaay (geeky voice)

Phew, I haven't done any science in years, but managed to get a B in 8th grade science. Give it a shot, but be warned: it's a lot tougher than it sounds.

Mingle2 Free Online Dating - Science Quiz

The Annals of Geekdom

39% GeekMingle2 -

Phew, looks like there's hope for me after all. I'm about, but not quite, half geek. I think that's a healthy percentage :-)

Surprise Surprise (not ironically!)

Laudator's blog recently got an R rating, so I decided to see what mine was:

Online Dating

I am genuinely surprised and appalled. According to the rating, the only objectionable work was "gun" (which I don't even remember using). Strangely enough, it overlooked all the profanity. I suppose it wasn't programmed to notice the words "suck" and "balls" in the same sentence :-)

All right, you can now officially let your kids view this blog!

Res Ipsa Loquitur, vol. III

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I just came across this list of "10 signs you've been single too long." As difficult as it is to imagine, I've been single for quite some time, but I can honestly say that this list does not really apply to me. Then again, the website is generally geared towards men whose IQs are about the same as their numeric age. Still, it's worth a gander, if only for a chuckle.

Monday, June 25, 2007

More from Moore

Though I'm still very much in caveman mode, I managed to watch Michael Moore's new doc Sicko online, but Mr. Moore has publicly stated that he has no problem with people watching this film since the object of it is not to make money but to raise awareness (and who am I to argue?).

I'm somewhat on the fence with Mr. Moore: I enjoy all his documentaries, but I thought that, as noble as Fahrenheit 911 was, it suffered from exaggeration and specious reasoning. I must say though that his latest film shows some maturation and development. A friend of mine who is no fan of Moore liked the film very much, and said that it was far less preachy than his last efforts, an assessment I found myself agreeing with.

Moore's newest documentary tackles the healthcare system (or lack thereof) in the United States. Just when you think it's going to be about the poor 1/6 of the population who do not have health insurance, Moore surprises you: it's about the 250 million who have health insurance.

Though I rarely require medical facilities or pharmaceuticals (knock on wood), I'm still glad that I live in Canada. It is not so much the fact that free healthcare is available, but rather the different philosophies of these governments. Unfortunately, in the U.S., the government has made it clear that they do not give a rat's ass if you live or die, unless you are a billionaire. Countries like Canada, France, England, and Cuba (all of which appear in the film) seem to have far more of a social conscience when it comes to their citizens, much less the those of other countries. The problem is that, despite what we all think, the world's most powerful nation is not run by elected officials: it is really run by multi-national corporations, including pharmaceutical giants. No wonder many of the problems that we find in the U.S. are utterly or nearly non-existent in other countries.

Radix malorum est cupiditas (greed is the root of all evil) could very well have been the epigraph to this film; I highly recommend seeing it.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Consummatus Est

Well it finally happened: I'm done coursework! though brain probably won't register it for a couple of days. All I know is that for the next couple of days I'm going into caveman mode, i.e., no thinking or speaking, and certainly no "work." If I need to communicate with someone, I'll use a series of distinguishable grunts.

It's a strangely serene feeling I have right now. Soon enough I'll start working on some projects, including trying to get something published by the end of summer. Even then, it's a much more calm experience than having someone putting a gun to your head and telling you to read and write essays. I feel liberated.

I'll probably return after caveman mode has concluded, or if I get really bored :-)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Losin' it

2007 has so far been a dry year for funny videos, but so far this has to be the front-runner. I won't spoil it for you, but I found out later that the main guy may be familiar.

Anyway, this is the first video all year that genuinely had me rolling in the aisles. Enjoy.

Addendum: What killed me is when he yells "IAAAAN." It reminded me of Captain Kirk's classic roar "Khaaaaan!"

Monday, June 18, 2007

Herr Smith was right?

As some of you know, my thesis will (provisionally) centre on Adam Smith. For an unrelated paper I'm writing at this moment, I'm reading his Theory of Moral Sentiments, which was what made him famous in the 18th century (Wealth of Nations did not do so until much later).

I came across this interesting fragment of an article which suggests that neuroscience may have proved Smith right:

Interesting stuff.

What people really mean on a date, redux

This is not just another one of those "what people really mean on a date" videos. It contains a nice twist: the real sentiments are uttered with the cliches subtitled instead of the customary reverse.

Enjoy (Rated PG-13)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

RIP, Basil

No, not Basil Fawlty.
I just found out today that that Basil Poledouris, a not too well known composer of film scores, died about six months ago. I don't know what else he did, but his greatest works were the scores to the films Conan the Barbarian, Robocop, and Hunt for Red October. Though many don't remember the first of these movies, which featured a younger, buffer, Arnold Scwharzenegger (I grew up with the film, so it has a nostalgic value for me), many consider the score to be one of the best epic film scores ever.

In the future, when I have time, I may compare him to one of my favourite 20th century composers, Aram Khatchaturian. Listening to some of the latter's more epic pieces leads me to believe that Basil was influenced by him. Growing up in mid-2oth century America, Basil would likely have been familiar with him as Khatchaturian was a household name in America at the time (also, I believe, the only composer ever to have a top 40 hit on the radio).

Though Basil was not as prolific or well-known as, say, James Horner, I think he composed some of the greatest epic music. His music will be difficult to find, but that's what Limewire is for :)

Oddly enough, Basil was born in, of all places, Kansas City, Missouri. His name must have stuck out like a sore thumb in the heartland of America, especially back in the day.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Salt in the wound

"Arat Dink, the son of slain journalist Hrant Dink, and another Armenian-Turkish journalist working at Agos, Sargis Serobyan, have been charged under Turkey's Article 301 for "insulting Turkishness" because of their continued work in honoring Hrant Dink's memory. On Thursday, prosecutors were in court seeking up to three years of jail time for the pair in a case stemming from their publication of an interview in which Hrant Dink discussed the Armenian Genocide.

Hrant Dink was assassinated outside the offices of his Agos newspaper in Istanbul on January 19, 2007. Authorities have arrested 19 individuals in the killing."

And Turkey wants to join the European Union. Good job, fellas.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Res Ipsa Loquitur, vol. II

Monday, June 11, 2007

Legal Rant

This concerns the current legal quagmire that sites offering tablatures are facing now from the MPA (Music Publishers Association). To the MPA, I have only one thing to say: suck my balls!

The MPA claims that sites offering tablatures (see my previous post on tabs) are illegal. I can see how one may make such a case, but the argument does not hold water. Here's why:

Tablatures are almost always the interpretation of a song by an amateur guitarist. The said guitarist will listen to a piece of music and then, using Word or Notepad, transcribe what he thinks he has heard. The tab is then posted on a website with the disclaimer that it is an interpretation to be used for private or research purposes, and that it is disseminated without profit.

Keep in mind that tablatures are different from sheet music. On a piano, for example, you can only play one note in one way. Middle C, for instance, can only be played on the note so designated, whereas on a guitar, you can play a note or chord in several different ways. Thus the potential for incorrect tablatures is increased. In fact, most tablatures out there are terrible: some include a few mistakes while some are not even in the correct key!

I can understand the MPA's position if, and only if, someone has reproduced an "official" tab or piece of sheet music online, which would be similar but not identical to reproducing a copyrighted article online.

Following the MPA's logic, then, if I showed a friend how to play a song, then I have similarly executed a breach of copyright. In fact, I will tell you right now that the first two chords to "Edelweiss" from the Sound of Music are Bb and Eb, based on nothing more than my ear and my judgment. By the MPA's logic, I have just breached copyright. Absurd!

Hopefully this issue will resolve itself to the benefit of amateur guitarists around the world. To sum up quickly: if an amateur guitarist has produced a tab based on his/her own judgment and disseminated it on a website without profit, I simply can't see anything wrong with it. I can understand why some sites have shut down (temporarily), feeling threatened by the MPA, but if this goes to court, I can't see how the MPA can win.

(If some of this makes no sense, I would be happy to elaborate).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Physics of Things

Still trying to figure out whether this is serious or merely a joke. Rated PG-13

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Up in Smoke

Here again is an old observation I made a few years ago but have only imparted to those closest to me.

Stoners (i.e., those who not only smoke marijuana on a regular basis but take it quite seriously) are the smartest people in the world. Let me explain:

Granted we all know of the numbing effects of this narcotic, and concomitant habits (general listlessness, etc). However, I've noticed that hardcore stoners are very intelligent and, at least when it comes to weed related matters, can be very scientific and creative. I once knew a guy who told me he could fashion a bong out of the most elementary parts, such as a rubber band, a toothpick, and an empty aluminum can. I've also heard stories of prisoners who have fashioned similar devices using similarly crude tools. Thus hardcore stoners are like McGuyver, the man who could make an atomic bomb out of a matchbook, a pencil, and some ramen noodles (I exaggerate, but you get the point).

I was watching an episode of Trailer Park Boys today for the first time in two years, and Ricky, the inveterate stoner, prior to taking off on a road trip, placed some fresh marijuana on the engine of his car and suggested that "it'll vaporize this shit and get us stoned on the way there." No sober person I know of could think of such applications.

Thus I submit to you that, given their creativity under duress and under great exigency, hardcore stoners are among the most intelligent and resourceful people on the planet. If only they could apply their gifts to more positive, far-reaching matters, all the problems of the world, including hunger and poverty, could be solved.

Friday, June 08, 2007

One of the great mysteries of all time solved!

i.e., Can a Jew join the KKK? One man made it his mission to find out

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tonson's miscellanies, vol. III

In this (long awaited) edition:

-my DVD works
-Quotidian (for me) minutiae

-My parents gave me a TV that was lying around the house and a brand new DVD player when I visited them in Toronto last weekend. After a disastrous bus trip back, I was annoyed (to say the least) when I noticed that the TV worked fine, but the DVD player was defective. I had to make the trip to Ballsmart (Walmart), but luckily my old neighbour offered to drive me.
I was relieved to find out that this particular Walmart was fairly tranquil (on a sunday), whereas the ones in Toronto make Milton's hell look like a picnic. Exchanging the defective item was very easy: in fact, the woman didn't even look in the box to make sure the unit was inside! Now I have a sleek Samsung which cost 40 dollars less, so with the money I saved, I got a fan (which I desperately need nowadays) and a universal remote control. As luck would have it, they all work! Hallelujah!

-I made an observation several years ago with respect to bums, but have never promulgated it beyond a few close friends: why do some bums insist on wearing enormous parkas when it's 30 degrees celsius outside? Granted, a small minority do this: I believe it's a sign for only those dedicated bums.

-My 18th century class is going well, but I am so burnt out and discouraged at this point, I can barely be bothered to work on my seminar for this week (on Inchbald's /Nature and Art/), much less the conference paper at the end. In any case, there are only 3 sessions left in what is my last class for ever! Can't wait. I have some projects I can't wait to get going on. More on these as they develop.